In all the doctrine and principles found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, learning about Lucifer, the Adversary, is not the most…happy of subjects. Despite this, we are encouraged to at least recognise who Satan is, just what power he does have and his methods that he is employing to try and turn as many as possible away from our Father in Heaven.
2 Nephi 28 gives us distinct and clear warnings against Satan and his methods of temptation. 2 Nephi 28:21 in particular gives us one tactic which is probably the most dangerous to anyone. It reads “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well…-and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
President George Albert Smith said this in a General Conference in 1918 after sharing the above verse: “…that’s exactly the way he does it. He does not come and grab you bodily and take you into his territory…He makes you believe that you are gaining something when you are losing…Men and women today are subject to that influence…that whispering is going on and they do not understand what the Lord desires them to do, but they continue in the territory of the evil one…”
All these cautions remind me of an analogy including a frog and boiling water. More recently, scientists dispute that this analogy would actually take place but it works well with the concept of Satan and his cunning tactic. Reportedly, if a frog is placed in boiling water then it will instantly jump out to safety. However, if the frog is placed in cool water and then the water is heated slowly enough, the frog will not attempt to escape until it has boiled to death. This relates to how we need to be aware of Satan turning up the heat around us before we are ‘boiled’ in a spiritual sense.
Of course, one of Satan’s tools is to convince people that he doesn’t exist! If there is no Satan, then there isn’t any ‘temptation’ and so there are no bad things to avoid in life. This is actually covered in the next verse of 2 Nephi – “…others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none – and thus he whispereth…until he grasps them with his awful chains…” (2 Nephi 28:22). As people are led to believe there is no devil, they are led much easier into his influences and further into his grasp.
Elder Marion G. Romney told us “A corollary to the pernicious falsehood that God is dead is the equally pernicious doctrine that there is no devil. Satan himself is the father of both these lies. To believe them is to surrender to him. Such surrender has always led, is leading now, and will continue to lead men to destruction.” What better lie to circulate that he doesn’t exist so people don’t know there’s any ‘bad’ influence.
As we see here, Satan has had millennia of experience in leading away God’s children. As such, he has become expert. How can we, vulnerable and innocent as we are, overcome such power and knowledge? Two things stick out to me.
One, we have a body – Satan does not. Therefore, as powerful as Satan is, we have power over him; we decide if we will allow his temptations to sway us or not. Also, and even more importantly, we have the Lord on our side. With His support, help and guidance, nothing is impossible when it comes to overcoming Satan and his wiles. I know that Satan is real, I have felt his influence in my life (as I’m sure we all do). However, I too know that God is real – and His power and influence is much stronger. I have felt the Lord’s influence also and I can tell you that He is indeed much more powerful than Satan, and His power leads to much greater happiness. Satan may trick us with temporary pleasure, but that can never beat true happiness.